Thursday, October 27, 2016

Three Little Words Again

Back in June of 2004 I wrote:

So while presidents may come and go, their legacy lives on after them and the consequences of a Supreme Court vacancy can change the course of the nation. Anyone who may have doubts about John Kerry or quibble with his stand on the war in Iraq should keep three little words in mind when they go into the voting booth in November: The Supreme Court.

We’ve had more than 200 days to consider the fact that Antonin Scalia’s corpse was still warm when the Republicans announced that they would basically say fuck their constitutionally mandated responsibility; we’re not voting on another one of President Obama’s picks for the Supreme Court until after the election in November, if then.  Now there are those who are saying that they won’t vote on any of Hillary Clinton’s appointees ever.

As Ilya Shapiro at The Federalist smugly notes, the Republicans are fully within their rights to do so because neener neener nyah nyah:

Clinton’s admission that her nominees would “be in the grand tradition of standing up to the powerful”—like some black-robed community organizers—is far more damning than her nonsensical positions on Heller (Second Amendment) or Citizens United (declining to punish producers of a movie criticizing Hillary Clinton).

Should senators rubber-stamp judicial nominees of that ilk, who care not about the law but rather hew to particular policies, out of a sense of tradition or deference to the executive? I simply can’t blame politicians who follow their convictions. If you truly believe that a particular nominee would wreak havoc on America, why not do everything you can to stop him?


So when you get past the gotcha headlines, breathless reportage, and Inauguration Day, if Hillary Clinton is president it would be completely decent, honorable, and in keeping with the Senate’s constitutional duty to vote against essentially every judicial nominee she names.

There is a simple way to solve this problem and get the Court back to its full complement of justices: elect more Democrats to the Senate than Republicans and get a vote on the nominees.  It would be nice to get more than 60 Democrats elected so that there wouldn’t have to be a fight over the filibuster rule, but we’ll take as many as we can get.  That’s why it’s important to beat Marco Rubio here in Florida, Richard Burr in North Carolina, Roy Blount in Missouri, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania; those at the very least.

Because if we don’t and the Republicans have their way, we could be looking at ten years — assuming Hillary Clinton wins a second term — between the time Justice Scalia checked out and his replacement is seated, and that’s assuming that no one else leaves the Court, either of their own volition or via the hand of the supporting role in Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal.”

Your move, voters.

Tales From The Dork Side

Remember Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL)?  Yeah, me neither except for the fact that he was a total waste of skin in Congress yammering on about teabagger issues and generally being a dick.  His constituents wisely voted him out after one ignominious term and replaced him with Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.  But old Joe is still at it.

walsh-musket-tweet-10-26-16Yeah, you and your scooter-riding buddies go ahead and grab your musket, Joe, on November 9.  We’ll be waiting.

All this talk about revolution and rebellion from the Trumpistas if the election doesn’t go their way is just the right-wing mindset gone gonzo.  They fully believe that they are the only ones destined to rule and anyone else is illegitimate, especially if they’re not white Christian men.  The fact that a black man will be followed by a woman into the White House is enough to make them go even further over the edge than they did with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The way to make them STFU is to make sure that we get out there and vote.  Get your friends and neighbors.  Vote early if you can.  Let’s make sure that not only does Hillary Clinton win, so does every Democratic senate candidate and as many House and local candidates as we can get in, too.  That will stuff a ramrod down their muskets.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Odd Crop Of Supporters

There was a mild kerfuffle when the father of the Pulse nightclub shooter showed up at a Clinton rally in Orlando last summer, which proves only that unless you’re Dick Cheney and can have the Secret Service screen out people in the parking lot, it’s tough to prevent some deplorable characters from showing up.  But via Miami New Times, this batch at a Trump rally is worth noting.

So who is this new face of Trump’s elusive black support?

He’s none other than Michael the Black Man, also known as Maurice Woodside or Michael Symonette, who has made waves in Miami in recent years with protests against the Democratic Party and rallies for the GOP.

He’s also a former member of the murderous Yahweh ben Yahweh cult, which was led by the charismatic preacher Hulon Mitchell Jr., who was charged by the feds in 1990 with conspiracy in killings that included a gruesome beheading in the Everglades.

Michael, along with 15 other Yahweh followers, was charged for allegedly conspiring in two murders; his brother, who was also in the cult, told jurors that Michael had helped beat one man who was later killed and stuck a sharpened stick into another man’s eyeball. But jurors found Michael (and six other Yahweh followers) innocent. They sent Mitchell away for 20 years in the federal pen.

In the years that followed, he changed his last name to Symonette, made a career as a musician, started a radio station in Miami and then re-invented himself as Michael the Black Man, an anti-gay, anti-liberal preacher with a golden instinct for getting on TV at GOP events. He’s planned events with Rick Santorum and gotten cable news play for bashing Obama.

Since 1997, he’s been charged with grand theft auto, carrying a weapon onto an airplane and threatening a police officer, but never convicted in any of those cases.

So why is he supporting Trump? Reached on his cell phone in Lakeland, he said he likes Trump’s plan to lower taxes, but also offered a complicated answer tying Hillary Clinton to a range of racist activities.

“One reason is because Hillary’s last name is Rodham, and their family members are Rothchilds, who enslaved 13,000 slaves as collateral,” he says. “She’s also on camera kissing the head of the Ku Klux Klan and saying, ‘That’s my mentor.’ That’s all on my website.”

I bring this up because at the Trump rally yesterday in Miami there was someone holding up one of Michael’s signs with the URL blacked out (so to speak) and it was held by a white person.

blacks-for-trump-10-26-16Um, okay.

Trump to GOP: You’re On Your Own

The tactics of someone who’s in it for themselves and no one else.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has no further high-dollar fundraising events planned for the remainder of the campaign, dealing another serious blow to the GOP’s effort to finance its get-out-the-vote operation before Election Day.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19. The luncheon was in Las Vegas on the day of the final presidential debate.

“We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin said, referring to formal fundraisers. “But the online fundraising continues to be strong.”

While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is headlining her last fundraiser Tuesday night in Miami, her campaign has scheduled 41 other events between now and Nov. 3 featuring high-profile surrogates such as her daughter, Chelsea, running mate Tim Kaine and the entertainer Cher, according to a schedule sent to donors this weekend.

Trump’s campaign is continuing to bring in donations that will boost the party, but the lack of a formal fundraising schedule effectively turns off one of the main spigots to the Republican National Committee. The national party collected $40 million through Trump Victory as of Sept. 30. The RNC has relied on the funds to help pay for hundreds of field staffers deployed across the country as part of its national ground operation, which is working to turn out voters to support the entire Republican ticket.

RNC officials said that party leaders, including Chairman Reince Priebus, are continuing to bring in resources for the party. “The RNC continues to fundraise for the entire GOP ticket,” said spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

It’s like he knows he’s going to lose so why should he care about what happens to the party?  It’s not like there’s any love lost between them.  But it really does make it clear that the only reason Mr. Trump is running as a Republican is because he saw them and their base as more gullible and pluckable, and he would have lost the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton in a landslide.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Weeks Out

Is the race over?  Superstitious folk and pollsters with long memories (1936 and 1948) say never say it is, but it’s hard to imagine anything other than a giant meteor changing the trajectory of the race.

There are those who are going around saying yes it’s over; Hillary Clinton has a 93% chance of winning, according to the New York Times Upshot.  I prefer to go with the people at FiveThirtyEight who are a little less convinced (although still convincing) with an 86.3% chance.

fivethirtyeight-pollsonly-10-25-16The Oracle speaks:

As I wrote last week, Hillary Clinton is probably going to become the next president. But there’s an awful lot of room to debate what “probably” means.

FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model puts Clinton’s chances at 85 percent, while our polls-plus model has her at 83 percent. Those odds have been pretty steady over the past week or two, although if you squint you can see the race tightening just the slightest bit, with Clinton’s popular vote lead at 6.2 percentage points as compared to 7.1 points a week earlier. Still, she wouldn’t seem to have a lot to complain about.

Other statistical models are yet more confident in Clinton, however, variously putting her chances at 92 percent to 99 percent. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big difference, since people (wrongly) tend to perceive odds above 80 percent as sure things. But flip those numbers around, and instead of Clinton’s chances, consider Donald Trump’s. The New York Times’s Upshot model gives Trump an 8 percent chance of winning the election. Our models say a Trump presidency is about twice a likely as The Upshot does, putting his chances at 15 percent (polls-only) and 17 percent (polls-plus). And our models think Trump is about four times as likely to win the presidency as the Huffington Post Pollster model, which puts his chances at 4 percent.

So let me explain why our forecast is a bit more conservative than some of the others you might be seeing — and why you shouldn’t give up if you’re a Trump supporter, or assume you have it in the bag if you’re voting for Clinton. We’ve touched on each of these points before, but it’s nice to have them in one place. I’ll also show you what probability our model would give to Trump and Clinton if we changed some of these assumptions.

TLDR: 1) A lot of voters are still undecided; 2) The model is calibrated on general elections since 1972; 3) The models are allowing for more unlikely events (giant meteor, perhaps?); 4) State outcomes are correlated with one another.

As we say frequently, the greater uncertainty in the FiveThirtyEight forecast cuts both ways. So while we show a greater likelihood of a Trump win than most other models, we’d also assign a greater possibility to a Clinton landslide, in which she wins the election by double digits. But while the campaign is almost over, the suspense isn’t quite done.

In other words, if you can’t bear the suspense, you still have the World Series (which Nate pegs the Cubs as favored to win) or the new TV season to distract you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Bigly List

The New York Times has compiled a list of the 281 people, places, and things that Donald Trump has insulted via Twitter since he announced his run for president in 2015.

The mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey is “not a nice person.” The golf swing of the actor Samuel L. Jackson is “not athletic.” A lectern in the Oval Office “looks odd,” and the mobile carrier T-Mobile’s service “is terrible.”

These comments are not private thoughts, nor are they the result of an embarrassing hidden camera, an off-the-record comment or a document release. They are public statements made by Donald Trump to his 5.9 million Twitter followers.

We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all.

The end result is “Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far).” It’s not a sample of some insults, or just those about his political rivals — though plenty of those exist. It’s the full count — a 100 percent sample, in polling terms — representing our best effort to categorize more than 4,000 tweets Mr. Trump has made since he declared his candidacy in June 2015.

Of those, we found that one in every eight was a personal insult of some kind.

Neither I nor BBWW are on it.  I don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.

Back To When?

Via C&L, we meet a Trump voter who wants to take her country back to a time when we didn’t have “the homosexuals” and “the abortions.”

A voter named Barbara explained that she was motivated to support Trump because “morality and values” were important to her.

“Based on what the country was based on,” she said. “I think that the laws that Obama has passed, the way the country has — I call it down turning. Some of the other people are proud of it and happy for it. I personally am against it, the homosexuals, the abortions. All the stuff, I am against.”

“When Donald Trump says ‘Make American Great Again,’ is that what you hear?” Dickerson wondered. “That it’s going to go back to before the time that you’re now describing?”

“That’s part of it,” Barbara agreed.

I’m not sure how far we’d have to go back in time to make Barbara happy.  If history is any guide, there have been gay people since the days that the first Homo Sapiens got together and checked out the hunky dude in the tight loincloth from the next cave over.  Abortion has been around since people figured out where babies come from.

Actually, I get where Barbara is coming from.  She wants gays back in the closet and abortions in the back alley so that we can all go on with our lives pretending that everyone is happily straight and that all babies are bundles of joy.  There were no teens driven to suicide because of bullying or being disowned for being “different,” no families torn apart by religious bigotry and poorly-suppressed reality, and there was no rape or incest or life-threatening birth defects.  Life was perfect until Barack Obama came along and in eight years just ruined it all.

PS: “The Homosexuals” and “The Abortions” sounds like the line-up of an ’80’s heavy-metal band concert.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

A new ABC poll has Hillary Clinton climbing to a 12-point lead over Donald Trump.  That’s a big jump from the previous ABC/Washington Post poll that had her at +4.  So why the big jump?  Because voters don’t just vote for the top of the ticket.

Josh Marshall:

The blizzard of sexual assault and groping accusations against Trump have driven Clinton’s margin among college-educated white women to an almost unbelievable 32 point margin. Over all Trump leads with white voters by only 4 points; Romney’s margin was 20 points at the same time for years ago. Trump’s ‘rigged election’ claims and especially his refusal to say he will accept a defeat on November 8th have generated an overwhelmingly negative response.

But here’s the key, the big deal …

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

Clearly a significant part of the move from a 4 to 8 percentage point lead for Clinton is a significant number of Republican voters dropping out of the likely voter pool. They appear to be concentrated among non-Trump Republicans who came around to Trump after he won the nomination. Where this matters is not so much in the presidential race – where a Clinton victory seems increasingly likely – but down-ballot in Senate and House races.

In other words, voters who aren’t likely to show up to vote for Trump are not going to show up to vote for down-ballot races; not a lot of voters will just show up to vote for their city council race or congressional candidate and skip the top of the ticket.  Meanwhile, Trump’s rants and insults to everyone from Mexicans to beauty pageant contestants has motivated a lot of people to come out to vote against him and anyone associated with him, especially the weasels like Marco Rubio who has condemned his antics with righteous indignation but still plans to vote for him.

The Democrats are taking notice.  They are pouring money into down-ballot races, even to the point that President Obama is cutting ads endorsing state legislature races in hopes of getting enough of them in office at the state level to be able to reverse the gerrymandering of districts that happened after the 2010 census.

In a perfect world I’d prefer to vote for someone rather than against someone else, but in this case, I’m happy to do both.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Reading

Two endorsements for president: one from the avatar of East Coast elitism, and one from a newspaper in the heart of middle America.

The Choice — By the editors of The New Yorker.

On November 8th, barring some astonishment, the people of the United States will, after two hundred and forty years, send a woman to the White House. The election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we will welcome for its immense historical importance, and greet with indescribable relief. It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander-in-chief after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign, one that exposed so starkly how far our society has to go. The vileness of her opponent’s rhetoric and his record has been so widely aired that we can only hope she will be able to use her office and her impressive resolve to battle prejudice wherever it may be found.

On every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment, and foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton is a distinctly capable candidate: experienced, serious, schooled, resilient. When the race began, Clinton, who has always been a better office-holder than a campaigner, might have anticipated a clash of ideas and personalities on the conventional scale, against, say, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Instead, the Democratic nominee has ended up playing a sometimes secondary role in a squalid American epic. If she is elected, she will have weathered a prolonged battle against a trash-talking, burn-it-to-the-ground demagogue. Unfortunately, the drama is not likely to end soon. The aftereffects of this campaign may befoul our civic life for some time to come.

If the prospect of a female President represents a departure in the history of American politics, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, the real-estate mogul and Republican nominee, does, too—a chilling one. He is manifestly unqualified and unfit for office. Trained in the arts of real-estate promotion and reality television, he exhibits scant interest in or familiarity with policy. He favors conspiracy theory and fantasy, deriving his knowledge from the darker recesses of the Internet and “the shows.” He has never held office or otherwise served his country, never acceded to the authority of competing visions and democratic resolutions.

Worse still, he does not accept the authority of constitutional republicanism—its norms, its faiths and practices, its explicit rules and implicit understandings. That much is clear from his statements about targeting press freedoms, infringing on an independent judiciary, banning Muslim immigration, deporting undocumented immigrants without a fair hearing, reviving the practice of torture, and, in the third and final debate, his refusal to say that he will accept the outcome of the election. Trump has even threatened to prosecute and imprison his opponent. The American demagogues from the past century who most closely resemble him—Father Coughlin and Senator Joseph McCarthy among them—were dangers to the republic, but they never captured the Presidential nomination of a major political party. Father Coughlin commanded a radio show and its audience. President Trump would command the armed forces of the United States, control its nuclear codes, appoint judges, propose legislation, and conduct foreign policy. It is a convention of our quadrennial pieties to insist that this election is singularly important. But Trump really does represent something singular. The prospect of such a President—erratic, empty, cruel, intolerant, and corrupt—represents a form of national emergency.

At a time of alarming and paralyzing partisanship, this is an issue that reasonable voices in both parties can agree upon. At last count, more than a hundred and sixty Republican leaders had declared their refusal to support Trump. Fifty national-security officials who served in Republican Administrations have done the same. The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Arizona Republic, the Dallas Morning News, and the Columbus Dispatch—all conservative newspapers, which have endorsed only Republicans for between seventy-six and a hundred and twenty-six years—have endorsed Clinton. USA Today, which has never endorsed a candidate, has declared Trump “unfit for the presidency” and has also endorsed Clinton.

Trump is an old American story and a very new one—a familiar variety of charlatan blooming again in the age of social media. It wasn’t so long ago that he was a fixture of the local tabloids (“Best Sex I’ve Ever Had”), with a sideline as a cartoon tyrant on “The Apprentice.” Then, beginning in 2011, came the bigotry of his attempt to delegitimize the Obama Presidency through voluble support of the “birther” theory. Yet his propensities have long been apparent. More than forty years ago, the Justice Department filed a civil-rights case against Trump and his father for discriminatory housing practices; the Trumps hired Roy Cohn, a former aide to Joseph McCarthy, to defend them. In 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad in the News implicitly calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, four African-Americans and a Latino who were then fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen years old, and stood accused of rape and assault. They were convicted and imprisoned, and when, years later, they were exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence, Trump continued to insist on their guilt, as he did just a couple of weeks ago. That statement might have garnered more attention had he not made it a day before the disclosure of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video, in which he spoke, in graphic terms, of his own predilection for sexual assault and the impunity that celebrity confers. It is not merely narcissism that leads him to speak about grabbing women’s genitals or to endorse the “Lock Her Up!” chants directed at his opponent. It is his temperamental authoritarianism—a trait echoed in his admiration of Vladimir Putin.

The consistencies of Trump’s character are matched by the inconsistencies of his policy positions. Every politician is allowed to change his or her mind, but Trump abuses the privilege. His reversals on issues as fundamental as first-strike nuclear policy and our obligations to nato reflect not so much a thought process as the blunderings of ignorance. He was once pro-choice; more recently, he has suggested that women who get abortions should be punished. His role models, too, change with circumstance. Ronald Reagan, he once wrote, could “con people” but couldn’t “deliver the goods.” Now Reagan heads the list of the Presidents he admires most. Asked just last year to name the best of the previous four Presidents, Trump chose Bill Clinton, having once lauded him as “a great President.” Now Clinton, like his wife, is a criminal. Three years ago, Trump remarked of Hillary Clinton’s work as Secretary of State that she was “probably above and beyond everybody else”; now, of course, her term was a “total disaster.”

The combination of free-form opportunism, heroic self-regard, blithe contempt for expertise, and an airy sense of infallibility has contributed to Trump’s profound estrangement from the truth. He said that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks of 9/11. When he was told that this never happened, he repeated the claim, mocked the disabled reporter who exposed it—a grotesque antic captured on video—and then denied having done so. He maintained that he saw a picture of Ted Cruz’s father “having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald”; no such picture exists. He boasted of conversations with Putin that never occurred; he said that Putin had not invaded Ukraine. He described climate change as a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, then said that he hadn’t. Day and night, Trump assembles and distributes these murky innuendos and outright lies through his Twitter account. He is particularly obsessed with the President. To Trump, Obama has many, many secrets: his birth, his faith, his loyalties. In the candidate’s conspiratorial catchphrase, “There’s something going on.”

There is something going on. If Trump is an opportunistic infection spreading throughout the body politic, what explains our susceptibility? Many answers have been offered. The mobbed but weak Republican primary field. Cable television’s propensity for broadcasting hours of Trump’s rallies. Resentment at the “browning of America,” in the era of the first African-American President. Anger over the failure to punish those Wall Street executives who helped tip the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The radicalization of the Republican Party leadership. A white working class that has been losing ground, and a disconnected political class, particularly within the Democratic Party, that has failed to convey any sense of empathy. Numerous writers and analysts, including George Packer, in this issue, have explored these questions in depth.

We are in the midst of a people’s revolt, a great debate concerning income inequality, the “hollowing” of the middle, globalization’s winners and losers. If the tribune whom the voters of the Republican Party have chosen is a false one, we cannot dismiss the message because we deplore the messenger. The white working-class voters who form the core of Trump’s support—and who were once a Democratic constituency—should not have their anxieties and suffering written off. Their struggle with economic abandonment and an incomplete health-care system demands airing, understanding, and political solutions.

Many Trump supporters are G.O.P. stalwarts who would support the Party’s nominee no matter what. At the same time, to deny the racist and nativist component of Trumpism is to shy from a fundamental truth about American social history. There really are Trump enthusiasts who resent President Obama because he is black, and because his being black is symbolic of all the other ethnic groups and recent arrivals who threaten their place in the social hierarchy. To follow Trump, in an effort to secure justice and respect, is to deny justice and respect to those he insults and disdains—particularly African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, women. In Donald Trump’s pinched and fearful vision, politics is a zero-sum game.

Hillary Clinton’s vision and temperament are the opposite of her opponent’s. She has been a pioneer throughout her life, and yet her career cannot be easily reduced to one transcendent myth: she has been an idealist and a liberal incrementalist, a glass-ceiling-smashing lawyer and a cautious establishmentarian, a wife and mother, a First Lady, a rough-and-tumble political operator, a senator, a Secretary of State. Her story is about walking through flames and emerging changed, warier and more determined. In her intelligence, in her gimlet-eyed recognition of both the limits and the possibilities of government, she’s a particular kind of inspirational figure, a pragmatist and a Democratic moderate. We wish that Clinton faced a worthy opponent: she deserves a less sullied, more substantive win. But her claim to our support goes far beyond the nihilism of the alternative. It is also notable that she has chosen as a running mate Tim Kaine, a highly capable politician with a record of genuine compassion; by contrast, the Republican Vice-Presidential choice, Mike Pence, has tried to position himself for the future on the national stage but has distinguished himself as one of the country’s most fiercely anti-gay politicians, declaring that marriage freedom would lead to “societal collapse.”

A chasm lies between a candidate’s promises and a President’s legislative accomplishments, but the ambitions must be assessed, however partial their eventual enactment. In many ways, Clinton’s campaign is the antithesis of campaigns during past times of economic uncertainty. She offers no soaring rhetoric on the order of “Morning in America,” “A Bridge to the 21st Century,” or “Yes We Can.” What she does offer is a series of thoughtful and energetic proposals that present precisely the kind of remedies that could improve the lives of many working-class and poor Americans of all races. She would simplify the tax code for small businesses and streamline their licensing requirements. She would increase health-care tax credits through the Affordable Care Act, which, in theory, would both expand coverage and reduce the burden on employers. She would also seek to expand access to Medicaid and would extend Medicare to people as young as fifty-five. She would substantially increase funding for community health centers and provide significant federal support for child care. And her college-affordability plan would help students refinance debt, and support states that subsidize tuition.

Clinton’s tax plans are also designed to promote broader-based affluence. She would increase the tax rate on short-term capital gains for high earners, with lower rates for longer-term holdings; close the “carried-interest” tax loophole that favors hedge-fund managers; and levy fees on banks with high debt levels. She would impose a four-per-cent surcharge on incomes above five million dollars a year, and adopt a minimum thirty-per-cent tax rate on incomes above a million dollars a year. She supports an “exit tax” and other fiscal adjustments that would discourage so-called corporate inversion—the offshoring of companies to tax havens like Ireland. And she proposes tax incentives for investing in towns that have faced significant losses in manufacturing jobs. To address the compounding effects of trade and technology on displaced workers, she would promote training, and include a tax credit for businesses that take on apprentices. She would allocate $275 billion over five years to infrastructure improvement, focussing on transit and water systems, which should create employment while reducing inefficiencies.

In general, Clinton’s tax plan is less advantageous to the financial industry and more conducive to jobs-intensive enterprises. Despite her reputation for being overly solicitous of Wall Street, Clinton has strong proposals to prevent large financial institutions from taking on risks that could derail the economy again. She promises to defend the Dodd-Frank reforms (which Trump, like all the Republican candidates, has pledged to overturn) and to build on them. She would impose new fees on risk; strengthen the Volcker Rule, which prevents banks from making potentially disastrous bets with government-backed deposits; and bring regulatory light into the so-called shadow banking system, where much of the 2008 financial crisis began. She would demand that hedge funds and other large financial firms provide far more information to regulators about their trading activity, and her Administration would prevent those firms from becoming so overleveraged that a faulty bet could bankrupt them and lead to widespread economic crisis.

Clinton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to matters of foreign policy, but she is more hawkish than President Obama. She urged intervention in Libya, and our failure to coördinate a more orderly mission there has had dismal results. As Secretary of State and as a candidate, she has been among those who have pressed the President to use American military strength in Syria more extensively than he has been willing to countenance. Considering the dimensions of our failure in Iraq, we hope that Clinton has learned a greater caution from the President for whom she worked. And yet, as Secretary of State, she did an enormous amount to repair relations with foreign governments in the wake of the Bush-Cheney years and to focus greater attention on our complicated relations with China. She was also instrumental in laying the groundwork for the economic sanctions and the political approaches that led to the nuclear deal with Iran, signed after her tenure ended.

The most important reason to vote for Clinton may be the matter of the Supreme Court. For two generations, conservative Justices have dominated the Court, and they have imposed their will on several critical areas of the law. Thanks to Citizens United and related cases, the law on campaign finance is in shambles, and wealthy donors now reign over the political process. In 2013, a five-to-four majority gutted the Voting Rights Act, perhaps the most important civil-rights law in American history, and Republican state legislators have taken advantage of this shameful moment in the Court’s history to limit the franchise of those who might vote against them—that is, minorities and Democrats. Over the years, a shifting alliance of Justices has protected certain key constitutional rights—notably, a woman’s right to choose and the right of universities to consider diversity in student admissions. Clinton has a chance to lock in these gains, reverse some of the losses, and even augur a new, and very different, era on the Court.

The Republican-controlled Senate has refused even to grant a hearing to Merrick Garland, President Obama’s politically moderate and highly qualified nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February. It will be among Clinton’s first duties to renominate Garland, or choose someone else for that seat, and, since Ruth Bader Ginsburg is eighty-three, Anthony Kennedy eighty, and Stephen Breyer seventy-eight, she may have several more opportunities to reshape the Court. A progressive Supreme Court could be Clinton’s most noble legacy, but one whose realization will require strong Democratic voices in the Senate—something that voters should remember in other races to be decided on November 8th. A Court of Trump appointees could fail to check him or any future demagogue. In the notorious Korematsu decision, in 1944, the Supreme Court acceded to President Roosevelt in allowing the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, an action that Trump recently refused to denounce outright. As Justice Robert Jackson, who dissented in Korematsu, noted, a precedent like that remains a loaded gun. Clinton will not radicalize the Court; she will honor its best traditions of truly judicious scrutiny.

Despite the conspiratorial conjectures of Clinton’s opponents, her politics hide in plain sight. She is a committed progressive on many issues, including the rights of women and minorities; gun laws (she would expand background checks, close gun-show and Internet-sales loopholes, and repeal legislation that immunizes the gun industry from liability litigation); and, more recently, immigration (where she favors comprehensive reform, a pathway to citizenship, and an end to family detention).

On the existential issue of climate change, Clinton has pledged to pursue the Congress-proof path that Obama has set off on. She would carry out his so-called Clean Power Plan, a series of regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector, which is currently in litigation. She has called for the installation of half a billion solar panels by 2020—producing roughly five times the amount of solar power currently generated—and, most ambitiously, she has said that she would put the U.S. on track to reduce over-all emissions eighty per cent by 2050. At the same time, Clinton has declined to support the measure that experts say would most effectively further these goals: a tax on carbon. Her reluctance here, while disappointing, is not hard to fathom; such a tax stands no chance in Congress, at least as it is currently constituted.

Like President Obama, Clinton has “evolved” on such issues as L.G.B.T.Q. rights, Wall Street regulation, and higher minimum wages. During the past year, she listened carefully to the arguments of Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign and of the Black Lives Matter movement, and, without relinquishing her essential center-left pragmatism, she came to embrace some of her party’s boldest and most progressive ideas, on college-tuition policy and criminal-justice reform. Unlike her opponent, she is capable of listening. Yes, it is political listening, but Clinton is a politician, and that is hardly a sin.

Hillary Clinton is neither saint nor prophet; she is a pragmatist of deep experience and purpose. But her toughness, her guile, and her experience—qualities that helped her patiently decimate Trump in their three debates—will be assets in future political battles. In “Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic,” Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that there was no reason “to believe that Abraham Lincoln, the statesman and opportunist, was morally inferior to William Lloyd Garrison, the prophet. The moral achievement of statesmen must be judged in terms which take account of the limitations of human society which the statesman must, and the prophet need not, consider.” In this populist moment, the attractions of continuity hold little romance. And yet Clinton not only promises to be a vastly better President than her opponent; she has every chance of building on the successes and insights of a predecessor who will leave office with a remarkable record of progressive change and, in an often ugly time, as an exemplar of Presidential temper and dignity.

Last month, in a broadcast to union representatives, Clinton remarked, “Why aren’t I fifty points ahead, you might ask.” Throughout the campaign, commentators have had much to say about her “negatives,” her “baggage.” Her greatest political problem—the reason that she is not even farther ahead in the polls—is that so many voters distrust her. She and her husband are not unique among politicians in enriching themselves on the speaking circuit and in the business world—everyone from Al Gore to Rudolph Giuliani has done so—but it is understandable that, when those fees amount to tens of millions of dollars over the years, and when Clinton speaks in such familiar tones to audiences of investment bankers, her opponents assume the worst. The Clintons are right to assert that their foundation is infinitely more worthy than Trump’s, but it is also more than fair to wish that the Clintons, knowing full well that they were not done with public life, had taken far greater care to avoid potential conflicts of interest, or even the appearance of them. There is another reason to wish for reëvaluation: Clinton’s mistrust of the media can make her guarded, stubbornly opaque—a reflex that was evident from her initial failure to come forward with her Whitewater documents, in the nineteen-nineties, to her failure a few weeks ago to disclose her pneumonia.

For the most part, however, Clinton is distrusted in ways that have little to do with her own choices, beyond the choice to be part of public life. She has been the target of twenty-five years of hatred, misogyny, and conspiracy-mongering, endlessly metamorphosing from one confected “scandal” to another—Filegate, Benghazi, the State Department e-mails. As each one has proved to be more smoke than fire, the fury has found another target. Now attention has moved to the WikiLeaks dump of her staff’s e-mail. Thanks to the tradecraft of what appears to be Putin’s hackers and his fond desire to unnerve the American political class, we now know that Clinton’s aides exchange fevered political calculations; that they say in private what they might not on television; that they make the occasional thoughtless or arrogant remark. Not since the release of the Nixon White House tapes has any political figure had private communications subjected to this degree of public scrutiny. Yet no dark alter ego has emerged. Whatever Americans think about Hillary Clinton, we cannot say that we don’t know her. We do know her. And there is a great deal to admire.

David Plouffe, who managed the Obama campaign in 2008, has called the Trump candidacy a “black-swan event”—irrational, but unique to Trump. It is unlikely, Plouffe says, that anyone will soon come along with the same capacity to overstep the traditional institutions of party, media, and big money, and tweet his way to the nomination of a major party. Yet this ignores the nativist backlash that has gripped other parts of the world. It ignores, too, the reckoning that is due in the party that nominated him, with Ted Cruz as the more primly demagogic also-ran. (Cruz also talks about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods and about Clinton’s criminality.)

Not even a sound defeat is likely to cause Trump to recede from view. Now, as he trails in the polls and declares the election “rigged,” thanks to a collusion of the media, political élites, and inner-city “communities,” he seems to be preparing the ground for an unlovely and prolonged assault on a Clinton Presidency. Even some Republican leaders who have withdrawn their support for him have adopted his maximalism. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that Clinton wants to strip away all color and joy from the lives of Americans. Senator John McCain has sworn that he will work in the Senate to block any Supreme Court nominations that a President Clinton might make. Neither has come to terms with the ways in which his party’s rhetoric and tactics have enabled Trump’s rise. If anything, their hope seems to be that the swell of passions he has brought together will not dissipate but propel their own ambitions.

To witness Trump’s behavior these past weeks has been to watch a man preparing the outlines of his own martyrdom. It is unclear how he will go on making his political mark. Will he run for office again? Will he fan the calls for “revolution” among his most outraged supporters? Will he build a new alt-right media platform? Or will he retreat to the Elba of Mar-a-Lago? There is no predicting the actions of a man who prides himself on his unpredictability. But, beyond Trump, there is Trumpism: a profound hostility toward political professionalism; a strong antipathy toward technocratic élites; a disenchantment with liberal values. Whether it gathers behind a Ted Cruz, or a Ben Carson, or some candidate yet unsummoned, it indicates a seam of disaffection that any successful Administration must address.

Clinton may lack Obama’s capacity for eloquence. Her task as President is, nonetheless, to find a way to communicate and connect with the public. Inspiration and persuasion are part of the job, in the office as well as on the campaign trail. She must reach the most alienated and angered members of the American electorate. Obama inherited a financial crisis when he took office. The civil crisis that Clinton will inherit is less sharply defined, but her political legacy will depend upon her ability to alleviate it.

Another legacy of hers will be assured. The election of a woman to the Presidency will have myriad reverberations in the life and the institutions of this country. President Obama’s election certainly did not end the saga of racial conflict and prejudice in the United States, but as a distinct step forward it opened up the world to countless young people. Similarly, electing a female President means imagining new possibilities: that a woman might survive that gantlet of derision to hold power with confidence, without apology, to enlarge our notions of authority and hasten an age when a female President will no longer be exceptional. Just as President Obama was able at certain moments of glaring injustice and crisis to focus the country on matters of race in a potentially lasting way, Hillary Clinton, who has emphasized in her campaign and throughout her political life such issues as early-childhood education, paid family leave, and equal pay, could also change the nation in deeply consequential ways. That’s a thrilling possibility for all Americans.

Hillary Clinton Has The Resume — The Longmont, Colorado, Times-Call endorses their first Democrat in modern times.

Throughout its modern history, this newspaper has endorsed Republican candidates for president, but this election year it will not.

Several conservative candidates with the leadership experience, character, aptitude, credentials and ideas to serve this nation well in the White House failed in the primary, and others chose not to run. Of the candidates in all parties who remain in this race, only one can lead this nation for the next four years, and that person is Hillary Clinton.

The failure of the Republican Party to put forth a serious candidate made this endorsement inevitable, considering that in December of last year, this editorial board stepped outside its usual bounds and recommended against a candidate in a primary election. That candidate, Donald Trump, is a man wholly and fundamentally unfit to be the president of the United States.

This is not an endorsement taken lightly, nor is it an easy one to make, as Hillary Clinton does not represent the fiscal conservatism, free-market mind-set and desire to keep restraints on government overreach that this newspaper usually supports.

Sadly, neither does Trump, as evidenced by his enthusiastic support of eminent domain; his insistence that an impractical, multibillion-dollar wall (which also would mean taking private property owners’ land) would be a good investment; his admiration of tyrants, attacks on free speech and instinct to use brash threats as a military strategy; and his pledge that if elected he would jail his opponent, something that has no place in American politics.

This is to say nothing of Trump’s bullying and shameless objectification of women.

Thinking this election is about the future of the Supreme Court is premature. Yes, the next president could nominate two or more judges to lifetime appointments. And Clinton, unfortunately, would nominate activist judges.

The task of reining in such nominations must fall on Senate Republicans, as they should be able to hold on to enough seats to avoid a filibuster-proof majority. That is, so long as Trump does not do too much harm to down-ticket party members.

As it is, Trump appears not to know what the Supreme Court does or what the Constitution says, and no one can predict or control what he would do to fill a vacancy. And don’t believe that he could surround himself with “great” advisers, much less take their advice. It is clear from his campaign that Trump lacks either the ability to surround himself with wise counsel or the willingness to listen to it. Not one person, even in the face of proof that he bragged about forcing himself upon women and joked about commit adultery, could talk Trump into a simple, earnest apology. Whatever sound policy ideas Trump might have, they are lost in his lack of self control.

This nation needs a commander in chief who can get it through the next four years before it thinks about a Supreme Court in the next 10 or 20. The United States faces unprecedented challenges: an evolving Europe; an explosive Middle East; an aggressive China; and a growing Russian threat that must be met by a leader who does not look admirably upon Vladimir Putin.

Clinton has the foreign policy resume for this job. She doesn’t just bluster about what she would do in the foreign arena, she has been there. Yes, she has made mistakes; those come with the job in a dangerous world. She understands the need to work with U.S. allies and would work to maintain alliances. Unlike her opponent, she knows who American allies are.

The Oval Office is still the most powerful office on the planet, and the person who occupies it must comprehend the gravity of the job. It requires self control, as the words and the actions of the president can put the lives of hundreds or thousands in jeopardy. Hillary Clinton is the candidate who is best able to maintain a reliable policy toward allies and foes.

This election will not be rigged. And while a great number newspapers and broadcast networks can be described as liberal, it is not their words that will bring down Donald Trump. It is his words that will do that.

Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are attractive but unrealistic options for some voters. But neither is a fit for this most important job. This leaves one candidate best suited to become the 45th president of the United States.

For the good of and the safety of this nation for the next four years, cast your vote Nov. 8 for Hillary Clinton.

Doonesbury — Bird watching.

Friday, October 21, 2016

If Only

Wishful thinking from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker:

WASHINGTON (News Satire from The Borowitz Report)—In an Oval Office ceremony on Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring the loser of the 2016 Presidential election to leave the country forever.

“This will help the healing begin,” the President said.

The executive order calls for the loser of the November 8th election to depart the country on the morning of November 9th and never return.

“Whoever that turns out to be,” the President said.

Obama acknowledged that the executive order marked a departure from American electoral tradition, but added, “A lot of good will come of this.”

The two most recent losers of U.S. Presidential elections, John McCain and Mitt Romney, issued a joint statement in reaction to the executive order. “We’re O.K. with it,” the statement read.

And take all the folks waiting for the Rapture with them.

Big If

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald.

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald.

Donald Trump says he will accept the will of the people and the outcome of the election… if he wins.


Har de har har.

Actually he later said he would reserve the right to challenge the outcome if there’s a “questionable result.”  That could mean a close election, like Bush v. Gore or Kennedy v. Nixon in 1960.  Or it could mean an overwhelming landslide where he’ll try to tell the world that there was no way Hillary Clinton beat him 2 to 1 in the electoral college vote.  So in typical huckster/grifter fashion, he’s leaving the possibility of challenging it no matter what happens, but more importantly, he’ll keep the spotlight on him and he’ll garner all the media attention, which was the whole point of this exercise in the first place.  It’s all about him and nothing whatsoever to do with being president.

Short Takes

China and Philippines make nice, reopen talks on disputed territory.

Politics and in-fighting hamper offensive in Mosul.

President Obama takes on Marco Rubio in Miami.

Trump Foundation paid right-wing filmmaker James O’Keefe.

Trump bombs at Al Smith dinner.

Cubs beat the Dodgers to get close to the Series.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Debate #3 Thoughts: Game Over

Donald Trump lost whatever chance he had of winning the election last night, and Hillary Clinton won.

Whatever marks you may give either of them for staying on message, which Ms. Clinton did despite Mr. Trump’s continued boorish and odd behavior, including the return of the Snort and the interruptions, the crucial moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump if he would concede the election gracefully if he lost.  And Mr. Trump did not say what everyone else in his campaign, including his daughter and his running mate, not to mention every other losing candidate has said since we started having elections, which is “Yes.”  He basically said, “I’ll get back to you.”

Don’t bother, Mr. Trump.  You’ve lost whatever legitimacy you have to claim a place in this election.  If you can’t accept the basic premise that standing for election includes the possibility of losing and the need to concede, you forfeit your place on the ballot even if your name is still there.  That’s how this system works, and when the electorate included you for consideration, they expected you to accept the fact that there is both the possibility and the requirement that you might have to concede defeat.  If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t have been in the race to begin with.

Last night’s performance revealed nothing new in terms of positions or policy.  All it did was reinforce impressions garnered about both candidates that have been forming since the end of the primaries.  So this was nothing more than like watching a high-wire act at the circus where we hope to see the performer make it through their routine without falling but are secretly thrilled when they stumble so we can see how they recover or bear witness to their fall.  Hillary Clinton made it across with grace and barely a slip while Donald Trump got halfway there then decided to turn a corner and on the way down screamed “Net?  Who needs a net?”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trolling For Fun

I have to think that President Obama said this just to see the reaction.

President Obama said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference with Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, Mr. Obama also called it “unprecedented” for any presidential candidate to “discredit the elections” before any votes were even cast, as Mr. Trump has done repeatedly in recent days.

“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.”


“It doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you’d want out of a president. If you start whining before the game’s even over, if whenever things are going badly for you and you lose you start blaming someone else, then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”


“So I’d advise Mr. Trump to stop whining, and go try to make his case to get votes.”

So far there’s been no 3 a.m. tweetstorm, but wait for it.